40K: How To Fix Dark Reapers

So I hear we got a Dark Reaper problem…

For the past couple months Dark Reapers have been taking the Meta by storm. The other day we discussed how they’ve developed and why they have become a problem.  We’ve also looked at some of the tactics people are using with them. Now we can argue whether they are over powered or not, but the simple fact is that they are winning a lot of events right now. So lets assume because of this we want to tone them down. Well, that really wouldn’t be that hard. Lets look at some easy ways GW could tone down Dark Reapers without making them useless. They have been waiting over 20 years for their moment in the sun – let them have a little fun…

Changing Squad Size

When Dark Reapers were first introduced they only came in 3 man squads. Since then they’ve fluctuated in size more than just about any other unit I can think of. Currently they are one of the few units that has a 3-10 size, and maybe the only single-wound infantry to be at that size. This is really a very odd unit size for infantry, giving them a lot of flexibility. They can make large 10 person squads to take advantage of powers and stratagems or take small 3 person squads to spam Tempest Launchers. Both of these unit sizes are abuseable . Most likely the simplest way to fix Dark Reapers would be to cut their unit size down to their “classic” 3-5. This would tone down their ability to take advantage of once a turn effects and make the unit far more reasonable.

Conversely the unit could also be made 5-10 in size. While this wouldn’t tone down the combos, it would limit the ability to spam. Now spam is clearly in large part a result of the new detachment charts. Still, unless that gets fixed a good way to address the issue is to increase the min size.

Make Them Less Mobile

Over the course of several editions Dark Reapers have transformed from a slow stationary unit into a very mobile one. One way to tone them down a bit would be to only let them get the benefit of Inescapable Accuracy if the unit didn’t move in the previous turn. While they would still be a fast unit they would have to stay in one place to be super accurate. This would cut down on Fire and Fade and Webway Portal shenanigans and move them back towards their original fluff of being slow units.

Take Away Their Dual Fire Modes

Dark Reapers have not always had the ability to fire in different modes. While they started off using Eldar Missile Launchers with various types of ammo once they moved to using Reaper Launchers they lost their anti-tank options for 3 editions. Only in 6th did they regain the ability to fire in dual modes. Maybe this was a mistake. Another easy fix to Dark Reapers would be to take away their ability to fire in Starshot mode. This would put them firmly back into a role as long range anti-infantry and leave the anti tank fire to Firedragons and Bright Lances. This fix would be pretty simple. Right now the sheer power and flexibility of the Reaper Launcher is making Fire Dragons obsolete – a clear warning sign that something is amiss.

Even if you didn’t want to go so far you could make the Starshot missiles cost more. In almost every previous edition where they were an option Krak or Starshot missles cost more and were an optional upgrade. There is no reason that couldn’t be so again.

Just Make Them Cost More

Simple but boring. Also not super effective. While it would nerf spam lists it wouldn’t stop Ynnari lists that take just one unit. Even if that unit cost 2x as much I think players would take them without a 2nd thought.

Drop the Damage

One of the things that makes the Reaper Launcher so brutal is its high damage output. With the weaker shot still doing two damage and the big one doing a set 3 per hit its pretty crazy. A ten many unit shooting twice can put out 60 damage a turn. This gives the unit the ability to simply delete most targets at will, with even one or two failed saves crippling tanks and monsters.  Dropping the damage down to 1 and 2, or just 1 across the board, would leave them as a unit that can still wreck Marines and other infantry, and can damage tanks, but one that isn’t simply going to wipe out large targets at will. Again this would be a change that would make Fire Dragons with their high damage output have a role in the army.

Git Gud

Or maybe all this is just a bunch of whining.  Maybe they don’t need fixing at all, and the way to fix them is to learn to beat them. Kill all the bubble warp and roll well to get first turn charges on them. Take a ton of indirect fire weapons and kill them as they hide. Use Noise Marines or Ancients to let your troops fire when they die and the enemy is in view. Hey there are so many ways to beat them its a wonder all these tournament players aren’t using them… Seriously though there are ways to deal with them, they are just harder to pull off than using Dark Reapers and not always cost effective. Still until and unless GW changes Reapers, they are what we are left with. So adapt and thrive my friends.

SO Folks, should Dark Reapers get changed, and how? Let us know what you think, down in the comments! 

  • tylran

    Okay, so for someone who doesn’t play spam-lists, the Dark Reapers are, I think, very balanced. I use one or two units of five and I can’t think they’ve ever survived, despite my Warlocks babysitting them with Conceal all game. Fire and Fade is really nice, I admit, but at the same time my buddy is having a field day with his Whirlwind, because that stupid tank actually does something for once. It usually kills only 1-2 Reapers per turn, but that’s still 20-40% of the firepower in the unit.

    • Jared van Kell

      At casual level play they are reasonably balanced, although they still outperform Firedragons, who are supposed to be the specialists, in killing tanks. This has led some eldar players in my area to drop Firedragons from their lists in favour of, yes you guessed it, Dark Reapers.
      It is when you see them in tournament or WAAC lists, that is when they are truly abusive. 3 units of 10 dark reapers, each led by an exarch, can dish out enough firepower to gut an opposing army in 1-2 turns and survive long enough to help the rest of the army finish the job.

      • KingAceNumber1

        My buddy runs 4 units of 3 and a unit of 9. That’s 10d6 tempest launcher shots a turn and 16 missiles or 32 if you go for the double tap.

        It’s a little much, the unit definitely needs a fix.

        • orionburn III

          Thing is anything can be used and abused. I can run units of 30 Devilgaunts and put out 90 shots per unit. 180 shots from a single unit if I use a stratagem to shoot twice. That means for 960 points I can run 4 units that could potentially put out 450 shots in a single round of shooting. That’s just 4 troop choices. Should we consider that broken?

          Again it comes down to dealing with people that spam units. Eventually I simply stop playing people like your friend. My group is good at determining whether we want to do fun games or go for broke brutal. In brutal lists then it’s fair game.

          • marxlives

            Not sarcasm, just a sincere inquiry. Do you suggest a fix would be to double down on asymmetrical game design and basically allow each faction a host of combos as a form of balance rather than a constant toning down of each issue? I know other games follow this philosophy and since 8th is 40ks major departure from the traditional wargame you see in historicals, that sort of doubling down might actually be a good idea, rather than trying to sit on the fence.

          • orionburn III

            Part of the issue is trying to even determine if a unit is really broken/OP or if it’s just going to be the new black for a few weeks. For me as a gamer/modeler it’s been really difficult to build some models because one month it’s great, and the next it may not be worth taking. Example: Malanthropes are clutch for Nids. I was running two in a game on average and was going to field a third one. With Chapter Approved the points increase doesn’t warrant me running 3 of them now.

            I hate to say it but at the end of the day it is going to be addressing invidiual issues (like this with the Reapers) rather than forcing everyone to go to an uber-strict army build. Honestly until all the codexes are out then I don’t see anyway around it. For tournanments it’s one thing, but for friendly games I don’t think many want to be locked into only being able to take X amount of unit Y. We have to face facts and understand a lot of things got better in this edition in order to sell models. It’s smart business sense. It’s going to take time to find the happy medium. I don’t believe the game will ever be truly balanced, and I’m not complaining about GW being proactive on fixing some glaring issues.

          • marxlives

            That is a pretty realistic outlook. I was watching on of the PP design blogs and one of the things they brought up is when you build a game by the number and are running percentages, you expect a bell curve in regards to power scaling. And that it is impossible to remove the top end of the curve entirely but you tweak it to depress the curve as much as possible.

            I think that really hits at the heart of the issue when we talk about balance. We really shouldn’t expect perfect balance, some builds will be better than others but through the effect of player skill in adapting, a random element (cards or deck), and a component outside of either players control (terrain placement and scenario) you have a leveling effect. Not perfect but as good as you can get.

            And the end goal is to have fun and whether you win or lose appreciate a player’s skill. I have been lucky enough to play with some world class talent and when you play a really good player, you don’t just lose against them, you see their intimacy with the game’s design. How it is built, its entire anatomy of the game is laid bare before them. In a way it is not much different than playing against a great chess player.

            I think this is the goal all game designers and players want to reach with a game. To have fun and lean back and say wow that player has amazing skill. The framework of the game design puts tactical acumen on display and by watching or struggling against that person you learn a little more about them.

          • Michael Ambrose

            It’s not as binary of that – not everything is OP if spamemd – if it was the case, the competitive scene would be incredibly varied as people spam whatever unit they like.

    • marxlives

      From your experience it sounds like if there was a “fix” then it would be just changing the unit sizes for min max to prevent spam. How do you feel about the other option of keeping them to one ammo type so they can fill an anti-infantry role?

      • tylran

        I personally would hate it. The Dark Reapers are the closest to the all-round can opener the Imperials have in form of plasma weaponry. I feel like pretty much every other Aspect Warrior aside from the Fire Dragons is anti-infantry or anti-MEQ, so I see no reason to make Dark Reapers just be more of that.

        • marxlives

          So basically, Dark Reapers are answer to letting Eldar not be too specialized to the point that if you don’t bring EVERY tool in the toolbox then you are toast. It gives the army some flexibility while allowing for some specialization.

  • J Mad

    When you are unlimited in what you can take something good will be spammed, when you can take 90% of your army as 1 unit over and over again, even if that one unit is only better by a little bit, players will spam them.

    • marxlives

      True, FOC is important if you want to keep your game within the traditional wargaming style you see in historicals.

  • defensive

    How about fixing formation rules, so armies actually have to conform to something, rather than formations having to loosely fit around whatever you want to take?

    Completely fixes all problems with spam, if you actually have caps on unit types.
    And it’s much more effective than just nerfing whatever unit fits the meta this month, and then nerfing the unit that takes it place next month, and repeat to infinity.

    This Dark Reaper “problem” is a perfect example of banhammer gone wild, where nerfs are called down from the rooftops on a unit that is perfectly fine in normal play.

    • BT

      I have to agree… the formations of all heavies, fast, or elites that don’t have the troop tax are doing more damage than good.

      • Cergorach

        Maybe… I really like the idea of Karandras leading 60 Striking Scorpions. Now, I don’t mind being penalized for that choice, but having that choice removed I wouldn’t prefer.

        IF Dark Reapers are too good for their points, points should go up.

    • Simon Chatterley

      The spam formations is the crux of the issue. Taking 1 HQ and 6 units of 3 Dark Reapers is incredibly points efficient and has no down side. They a Craftworld trait and a boost from the HQ of some sort.

      • KingAceNumber1

        This. 6 units of 3 with a barebones foot autarch for reroll 1’s. It’s s complete no brainer and really irritating to play against

    • euansmith

      I like the Kings of War force organisation, where taking units of infantry “unlocks” slots for heroes and monsters. That way, you end up with something that looks like an army.

      • Simon Chatterley

        It’s a solid way to go for sure. I actually like the warpath rules as well. If GW had written them we’d be raving. As it is Mantic did and they get overlooked.

        If I remember 2017 for anything it’s that Mantic did a good job and I think it was them starting to grow that prompted the massive change GW have had.

        • euansmith

          Star Saga turned out really well. Very nice minis too.

      • marxlives

        True with some many great companies out there, it is natural that they will borrow design ideas off of each other, and there is no shame in GW doing the same.

        • euansmith

          It is a shame that they don’t looking at lifting a modified turn sequence from someone else. It wouldn’t be so galling if they didn’t have a neat turn sequence of their own, in Lord of the Rings. 😉

    • Jared van Kell

      Warmachine/Hordes have the right idea by including a unit allowance, so you cannot spam certain units. If 40K had a similar mechanic, this might help.

      • euansmith

        Thant’s an idea. The old FoC used to have allowances, like 0-2 Elites; but adding allowances to specific units could be more focused.

        • ZeeLobby

          I may be remembering wrong, but back in the day weren’t there some specific units which were 0-1?

    • ZeeLobby

      Sounds like your thinking of some kind of Combined Arms Detachment. If only something like that was possible…

  • Wildcard1980

    I agree most problems with 8th have all gone with the fact that you can spam as much of a unit as you want I would say capping anything but the most basic infantry is maybe the best thing I can think of to bal things.

  • vlad78

    ‘roll well to get first turn charges on them’

    I see this is high strategic thinking. ^^

    • zeno666

      lol, so very true 😉

      • stinkoman

        rolling well are the real 40k tactics 🙂

        • euansmith

          Roll most six now!

      • ZeeLobby

        Lol. Yes!

  • JonaRoth

    Ok, so you invent a problem, then propose solutions to the problem you just invented. I guess that’s one way to churn out new content.

    • Cergorach

      Sure… ‘content’…

      • stinkoman

        the content is the comments section

        • euansmith

          The message is the medium moanium. 🙂

        • ZeeLobby

          Too true.

    • orionburn III

      I’m surprised the “fix” wasn’t simply a link to the story from last week saying that Eldar needed to be killed off as a faction.

      • marxlives

        That got a good laugh out of me man.

      • AntonisLak

        win comment

  • lmn118

    Or you know, you could stop the knee jerk nerfing reflex due to a few players playing in tournaments, who arguably make up the minority of GW’s customers and will simply move to the next semi strong unit and spam it.

    • Lebowski1111111111

      perfect cycle to keep selling models if your GW is it not?

      For me though, im hesitant to even buy models if they are percieved as OP after i purchased a ton of DKK models to use as conscripts and now they are unplayable in that role. Once bitten twice shy.

  • ectoplasmic gyrator

    You mellowed your closing paragraph, but that’s shallow cover for whinging. By Sanguinius’ peach hairs, something’s gotta make it to the top. So they get nerfed, then what? Then people whine about the next best contender!

    I’ve been whooped by Dark Reapers twice. It compelled me to adapt my tactics. And you know what? I won the third time.

    • orionburn III

      This! I’ve played spammy dreadnought lists. Haven’t heard any talk about nerfing them and I got crushed the first time against that type of list. I’m so sick and tired of a unit finally getting good and then everybody – correction, certain websites – starts screaming that they’re broken, OP, needs nerfed, etc.

      The issue as usual is with units being spammed – not the unit itself.

    • Did you adopt your tactics, or did you change your list to be more effective against dark reapers?

      Because the issue is not when you know what you are facing. The issue is when you have to plan a list around dealing with everything.

      Will there always be something on the top? Sure, but the point is not to constantly hammer things down. The point is to try and narrow the gaps between the top and bottom as much as possible.

      • ectoplasmic gyrator

        Mostly tactics, I only swapped one unit – which I had been leaning on multiples of already.

  • murgel

    Basically the complain about Reapers is by people who are forced to play OP list of OP units because of the kind of game they play!
    If you do NOT play “competitive” (meaning WAAC) but according to fluff and “future realism” such spam lists would never, ever see the table. So, honestly, there is no problem at all.

    • stinkoman

      WAAC =/= competitive. If you are playing to win, you are playing competitive. If you are trying to WAACs, then might be cheating or being a dick about rules that may COST you your friendships or your games.

      I put emphasis on this because our gaming group all play kind of relaxed, but then get huffy the minute someone’s army selection is better than theirs. where do you draw the line? we don’t play narrative missions much (where that sort of play style actually fits), most games are matched play games where i think competitive is the goal.

      it’s ok to play competitively. who wants an easy win because their opponent wasn’t playing to win? if you are not playing a narrative mission where you make up a scenario that is fluffy and has a story, you are playing a competitive match. if you are cheating or not letting your opponent do something like go back to do something he forgot, or something else like that, then you are WAAC.

      • murgel

        OK, Here is my/our point of view on the difference of competitive and not competitive playing.

        Playing to win is NOT competitive in it self, it is just playing. It’s of no concern if the game is narrative or open or matched all people play to have fun and strive to win the game.

        Competitive is different, it reduces the goal of the game to winning. Meaning that the most effective use of rules overrides other factors of the game by fare or even completely. That is WAAC. One ignores everything, fluff, 40k realism and anything else but the rules as written for a maximum of efficiency and effectiveness.

        Cheating is not WAAC it is just cheating.

  • Dalinair

    They really dont need fixing, formations do

  • Bootneck

    Played loads of games and two big tourneys since 8th release, had no problems with them.

    Not seen many Eldar lists tbh.

  • As we know GW, if there’s a problem, they probably implement each of these suggested “fixes”.

  • Drpx

    GW still thinks everybody runs kitchen sink armies.

  • BJ Mickle

    I think, like conscripts, we should do all of the above. Cuz nerf anything that wins.

  • stinkoman

    When did we say we had a problem? i don’t play against DRs all the time and think they give eldar a much needed punch. what you need to do is make other options viable and DR spam wont be there.

    as with any spam, it’s there because it’s the best option. take it away and something else will be the best option.

  • Solvagon

    I think GW should just limit all armies to have a maximum of three of the same unit and 6 of the same troops. Or just make the detachments without mandatory troops cost points in matched play.

    • zeno666

      They might as well steal the Field Allowance-rule from Warmachine.
      They’ve already taken mini feats and other juicy bits.
      Cause the more they bring in from other more modern games, the better 40k gets…

      • marxlives

        It is difficult to sit on the fence between a traditional wargame and a combo driven placement game. The combo driven placement games let you take whatever you want but there are limiters like FA and the necessity for WJ points or just small point size like in Company of Iron with AA.

        With traditional wargaming its your FOC.

        It is the reason that while I like the aesthetic, lore, and rules for BattleTech I can’t play it because there is no FOC. I want it to play like a traditional combined arms wargame, but it boils down to all lances with who ever takes the most broken thing based on tonnage.

        If the game is going to be a traditional wargame that focuses upon armies then it needs to contain those balancing mechanics used by those wargames. If it is a combo placement fest then it needs those balancing mechanics to make it work.

        • memitchell

          I think you wrote something worthy of reading. But, you used one term and 3 acronyms I don’t recognize. Maybe you weren’t writing for the likes of me to read, anyway?

          • Apocryphus

            I’ll do my best to clarify from what I read:
            FA- Field Allowance: The maximum number of times a certain model/unit can be included in a list.
            WJ points- Essentially free points a Warcaster/Warlock gets that can only be spent on Warjacks/Warbeasts.
            AA-I don’t play Company of Iron, so I don’t know that one.

            I think those were the acronyms that would get lost on a majority of folk as they are from Warmachine/Hordes and not a lot of people on BoLS are familiar with them.

          • marxlives

            No problem. So FA is field allocation, so if a unit/model has an FA of two it means you can only take 2 of those. It doesn’t matter if the unit is min or max.

            FOC is force organization chart, which says you have have to take so many of this before you can unlock access to this. So you have to take an HQ to unlock troops and so many troops to unlock access to elites. Basically a gatekeeper type system.

            WJ is warjack points. Warmachine focuses more on the giant robot and beast models than the infantry ones so each general or warcaster gets so many free points they can spend to just buying robots or beasts. So it is an incentive mechanic.

            I think you could do that with 40k with some tweaking. Basically by using a ratio of if you take X points in hq or hq character models you must take X points in troops. This would be a way to keep the game focused on troops and larger games would simply open up other options.

  • fenrisful2

    Deleting contradicting comments now?

    There are better units than Dark Reapers in the Eldar codex.
    Shining Spears is one of them. You get 5 shots (not 1 or 2) at an effective range of 28″ instead of 56″.
    Then if you feel 22″ effective range is enough you can charge too with effectively power fists. Not only that, you get W+1 and a 4++ against shooting and the “fly” keyword.

    All this for only the additional cost of a guardsman/powersword per model.

    • marxlives

      I wonder that since everything can wound everything if it is the range and volume of fire that is more important. After all if I need 6’s to wound and but I am rolling 100 dice, does it really matter that I need the highest or even the lowest target number on a die to wound?

  • Dave Bardy

    Here we go again, competition and WAAC gamers don’t like the rules so they must be broken! Why not disallow spam lists at competitions instead of whining all the time!

    • orionburn III

      And that really isn’t that difficult to do. I’ve done tourneys where the missions can really punish spammy lists. You can still run spam if you want, but there will be times where it’s going to put the hurts on you. There’s easy fixes as saying that you can only take X amount of detachments, so many points per detachment, etc. Because once the “reaper problem” goes away then we’ll all be having this argument again with the next codex comes out and a new unit is considered OP.

  • Commissar Molotov

    Dark Reapers did nothing wrong.


  • Spade McTrowel

    I’ll just copy/paste my response to the “problem” thread. Teach me to read things in order 😉

    Here is the solution to your not-problem in two easy steps:

    1) Reduce the ability to spam non-troop units. Fix or modify detachments at the event level. Contact your TO.

    2) Fix Ynarri. De-exist them. They are Eldar Heresy.

  • Heinz Fiction

    I like the idea of Dark Reapers having to be stationary to benefit from their inescapable accuracy. Most Eldar heavy weapons get penalties for moving. Reapers beeing the exception results in a lot of hidden power. And to those people claiming they are fine: Whenever I write a list, 2 units of reapers are the first thing on it and the sole reason I don’t use more is that I only have 2 exarchs.

    • Erich Schoenholtz

      I put reapers in my list because they are my favorite aspect and always have been. I had them in lists going all the way back to 2nd edition. IMHO, dark reapers were more powerful in 2nd edition. Currently, they have been harder to put in my Iyanden list as I want more wraith units.

  • Antoine Henry

    Dark reapers are utterly unbalanced even for friendly games.Alone or with combos they are undercosted and overpowered. they need to cost more and should not remove to hit modifiers. compare devastators to them that costs a lot more with a tax sergeant and you get the feeling. dont go with the 3 toughness as this is not a problem in this version. People stating that this unit is balanced are not playing the game. Also why a exarch with 2 hp on each unit that cost the same

  • Defenestratus

    Evergreen headline: “How to fix Eldar so they’re the doormats we remember from 4th and 5th edition again.”

    • Erich Schoenholtz

      So damn true. LOL.

  • 40KstillRulesTheTT

    I play tyranids and I have witnessed the power of dark reapers. DR and Hive Tyrants need the nerf bat (or simply a cost increase, and a slight one only for the HT), they both outperform the rest of their respective codex.
    Astra militarum got the nerf bat, it’s only faire other codexes get it too

  • Zreat mi Legenderi

    Money, Money, Money… GW issues very OP units withou a límit in numbers. Then, after some months of People buying dozens of models from that units, They “fix” them. Instead of intruduce some límits, as They did in the past, They let players to abuse using those OP units because IT means morè Money. But, in order to avoid People become bored with absurd gameplay, They Will fix all and a lot of People Will find themselves looking for a way to sell dozens of the same models. In a year or two, wait for very cheap Dark Reapers…you Will get them cheaper than ever.

  • Erich Schoenholtz

    Dark Reapers are fine. Just avoid stupid tournament lists of dumb and bring a proper mix of forces and they are fine.

  • http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/79e27067ec5be2a324fdfc7d9ddd484038760443f243f160abe63d6266e6a039.png

    One of these days perhaps we’ll get there.

    You might say I’m a dreamer…

    …but I’m not the only one. 🙂


    They are OK but they should not auto hit anything on 3s and range should be a bit shorter
    Any modifiers should apply to them such as -1 on airborne targets etc
    That would help balance them
    They are easy to take out but if the Eldar player goes first and they ignore -1s etc it’s game over usually from the alpha strike damage

    It’s difficult to genuinely discuss balance
    Given GWs clear history as exposed recently of having lower point /op models to sell models such as the wraith knight in 7th gw is prob selling lots of these and other op units. Once they sell enough they will increase points again nerf like guard once they reach sales targets. Love to see sales figures of models vs codex releases /rules changes.

    In NZ TOs running tournament are against running FW models
    It’s like why don’t u look at banning other codex’s like this lol instead of banning everything else
    7th Ed issues are still around in 8th